For many bodybuilders, leucine is vital. In fact, this essential amino acid (EAA) has been shown to deliver many health benefits.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the key questions about leucine.
What Is Leucine?
Leucine – along with isoleucine and valine – is one of three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAS). It is highly effective for stimulating skeletal muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
Unlike isoleucine and valine, leucine activates complex muscle-building pathways via the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway.
Think of mTOR as a molecular switch that activates the machinery in the body that builds muscle protein. Leucine activates the mTOR switch, and as such, delivers the building blocks for protein synthesis throughout the body.
Leucine also regulates the MPS process. And if there is an overabundance of amino acids that can provide the foundation for new muscle, additional leucine will be used to supplement the protein synthesis rates accordingly.
Ultimately, utilizing BCAAS products that contain leucine can make a world of difference for athletes, bodybuilders and many others. Thanks to leucine, these products can help the body maximize muscle anabolism following strenuous exercise.
How Can You Incorporate Leucine Into Your Diet?
Leucine is one of the EAAS, which means it is not produced naturally by the body. However, leucine can be obtained from multiple dietary sources, including:
- Animal proteins: Often serve as the best source of leucine. Animal proteins naturally contain all EAAS.
- BCAAS: Usually contain about 40 percent to 50 percent leucine. This means a BCAAS dose of 5 g to 6 g will provide an individual with roughly 2.5 g of leucine.
- Whey: Represents the protein source with the highest leucine content. Typically, whey contains about 10 percent leucine, or the equivalent of 10 g of leucine per 100 g of protein.
For the most part, leucine can be taken as part of a meal or on its own. The daily recommended dosage of leucine usually varies from 2 g to 5 g.
It is important to note the optimal amount of leucine has been studied extensively over the years, revealing a broad range of results.
Some studies have shown that as little as 2.5 g of leucine daily can drive protein synthesis. Meanwhile, various long-term studies have suggested individuals should take at least 8 g of leucine divided over the course of a day.
Remember, leucine alone is inadequate and should be taken in conjunction with other BCAAS (isoleucine and valine). And if an individual’s diet is low on protein, he or she should supplement it with all three BCAAS.
What Does Leucine Do for the Body?
Leucine supports the body in the following ways:
- Drives Weight Loss
Several studies have indicated leucine can help individuals accelerate their weight loss and spare muscle while dieting.
For example, University of Illinois researchers recently evaluated weight loss diets that contained 10 g of leucine in combination with 125 g of protein daily, with a minimum of 2.5 g of leucine during each meal.
The researchers found the groups that consumed high leucine diets enjoyed:
- Greater weight loss
- Greater fat loss
- Better preservation of lean body mass
- Improved glucose control
Moreover, a Columbia University study was used to analyze rats that were given high-fat diets.
In the study, rats that were provided with leucine supplements decreased their fat weight by 25 percent. The study also revealed leucine promoted better blood sugar control, leading to a reduction in total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Leucine even helped rats raise their levels of uncoupling protein 3 (UCP3), which frequently causes the body to lose energy as heat instead of storing it as body fat.
- Activates mTOR
mTOR is a protein synthesis regulator that responds to leucine. It is essential for skeletal muscle hypertrophy.
Studies have shown low levels of leucine signal mTOR to be disabled. On the other hand, when mTOR receives adequate levels of leucine, it drives protein synthesis.
- Promotes Muscle Growth and Development
Leucine boosts the rate of MPS faster than other amino acids. As a result, it promotes unparalleled muscle growth and development.
Recently, a study was completed to analyze MPS. During the study, animals were provided with different amino acids, and the results were assessed in combination with glucose ingestion.
Animals were provided with a protein supplement that contained all amino acids. At this point, the animals’ MPS levels were analyzed, revealing a spike in MPS.
Next, researchers found the animals’ MPS levels increased at the same rate when they were given EAAS and BCAAS, respectively. In the final stage, only leucine was given to the animals, and the animals’ MPS levels rose at the same rate. Therefore, researchers concluded that MPS was the leading factor of MPS in animals.
- Provides Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Regulation
Leucine may even help individuals regulate their cholesterol levels, a key finding of a May 2009 study conducted by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. In the study, rats that received leucine supplementation displayed increased blood levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol).
Furthermore, the body requires glucose for energy. Although many amino acids provide glucose, only leucine can substitute for glucose during fasting.
An increased glucose level may prevent an individual from using muscle for energy during an intense workout. Conversely, leucine has been shown to be more effective at helping people regulate their blood sugar levels than isoleucine and valine – both of which convert to glucose at a slower rate than leucine.
- Stimulates Insulin Release
Insulin is an anabolic hormone that enables key nutrients like glucose and amino acids to enter muscle cells. Leucine supplementation may stimulate insulin release, ensuring these nutrients can reach the muscle cells consistently.
The Bottom Line on Leucine
Leucine can help individuals in many ways. With BCAAS products, you can get the leucine supplementation you need to build muscle and improve your athletic performance.
BCAAS supplements promote anabolic reactions, serving as safe, effective alternatives to steroids. They bolster the muscle-protein metabolism, reduce exercise-induced protein degradation and drive oxidative metabolic processes in muscles during intense exercise.
Many BCAAS supplements are available, but not all of these products have been shown to help increase MPS. mTOR PRO™ stands out from the pack because it is currently the only BCAAS product available that includes a time-released form of leucine known as ActiveTR™.
mTOR PRO™ serves as an active mTOR signaler and helps deliver proven athletic performance results. When the body signals mTOR, it triggers cells for division, growth and repair. This drives increased muscle growth and energy production, along with assorted cognitive benefits.
In addition, ActiveTR™ and other ingredients in mTOR PRO™ have been comprehensively studied to ensure safety and reliability. These ingredients work together to help individuals improve endurance, reduce fatigue and much more.
ActiveTR™ plays an important role in the overall effectiveness of mTOR PRO™. With this BCAAS supplement at your disposal, you may be better equipped than ever before to achieve your athletic performance goals.